Moke Hamilton, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK — After a seven game stretch that seemed more like 17 games, Brook Lopez returned to action for the Nets on Friday night when they welcomed the Detroit Pistons to Barclays Center. Unfortunately, Avery Johnson told the media after morning shootaround that Jerry Stackhouse would not be available on Friday night.
Before tip-off, he spoke with the media about his current condition and when he may return.
“I think I could possibly go tomorrow,” Stackhouse said in the Nets locker room. “But for precaution, we want to take a few extra days so I can be ready to go for Tuesday,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Nets will play host to the Utah Jazz and according to Stackhouse, that’s when he’ll look to return. That means that Stackhouse will be out for Saturday night’s game in Chicago against the Bulls.
“We hate to miss games, especially when we’re right in the thick of things,” Stackhouse said. “There are teams above us we’re trying to catch and teams below us on our heels.”
Clearly, Stackhouse is in high spirits, though, because he cracked a bit of a joke while he was discussing his ailments. “In the big scheme of things, I think getting Brook [Lopez] back is a little more important,” he said with a chuckle.
He may have been laughing, but Stackhouse is probably correct. Without Lopez, the Nets have been a different team. With Lopez, the Nets were allowing less than 91 points per game and enjoyed a stretch as the league’s stingiest defense in terms of points allowed.
But their once solid defense has allowed opponents to score 105.8 points per game in Lopez’s absence and the Nets went just 2-5 without him.
“I’m glad to see him back out there. I think that opens up a lot more for everybody,” Stackhouse said. “It’s not that [Andray Blatche] and those guys aren’t doing a good job for us, but it’s just a whole different presence when you’ve got a big seven-foot body like that.”
Stackhouse then continued to discuss Blatche and his contributions to the team.
“This amnesty stuff and this debacle with him in Washington made people forget about him being a starting power forward-center in this league that was on everybody’s scouting report just a year ago,” he said.
“Nothing’s changed and I’m glad he didn’t let it affect his confidence because now he shows against second string teams that he stands out as still a first tier player.”
As a starter, Blatche filled in capably for Lopez on the offensive end, but defensively, Blatche isn’t the shot blocking presence that Lopez is and the team may be better off with him coming off of the bench and providing a scoring punch with the second unit.
After initially saying Lopez would not play tomorrow, coach Johnson told the media that Lopez may play if his body responds positively to the minutes he played on Friday night.
With Lopez returning and Blatche playing well, things may be looking up for the Nets. They could use a winning streak in the worst way.